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Teachers prepare for common core curriculum testing

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: May 28 2014 07:32:32 PM CDT

Teachers across the state are preparing for the common core exam coming up this spring.

As most kids are out enjoying their summer break, the teachers are the ones getting a lesson today at Idaho State University.

More than 100 teachers from around the state gathered at ISU's Distinguished Voices in Education seminar where education experts helped coach them to help them prepare their students for the upcoming Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium.

Although beta versions of the test have already made their way into classrooms as a trial run, the finalized exam will make its way onto students' desks this upcoming spring.

Director of the Inter-Mountain Center for Education Effectiveness at ISU's College of Education Dr. Chuck Zimmerly said too many students are breezing through high school without being prepared for the rigors of college.

He said this exam is a great way to test whether or not the kids are up-to-par with what should be expected, whereas the former I-SAT exam had no way of determining students' actual skill level.

"The common core standards are tough," Zimmerly said. "It requires kids to be more intuitive, higher order thinking skills, cognitive thinking skills, and not so much just rattling-off facts and figures."

The new Associate Dean for ISU's College of Education Christina Linder  also currently serves on the State Board of Education and formerly worked for the State Dept. of Education as the director of certification.

She said she is behind the common core standards after realizing there was a problem with how the state determined whether or not some teachers were effective.

"There was no way to have a common conversation about what effective teaching looked like because every district was using their own, different kind of measure of what effective teaching was," Linder said.

She hopes to now implement the common core standards into the curriculum of students entering the College of Education so they will be prepared enough to make sure their students do well on the exam.

Zimmerly said this exam will be extremely challenging, and more difficult than the I-SAT since it will require students to not only solve a problem, but show their work and the research they used to come up with their answers.

He said one example of what the test might ask students, is to create a city park and then come up with the best bid.

And the stakes are high - students will take this exam for the first time in third grade, again in eighth grade, and for the final time during their junior year of high school in order to graduate.

The seminar is put on by ISU's College of Education and the ISU Credit Union, and will run again all day Thursday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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